Vaccine distributors explain efforts to reach more people as demand continues to slow

Local

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Friday marks the first day anyone 60 and older can walk into a state-run vaccine site, no appointments needed. Incident Commander for the Albany site and Executive Deputy Secretary of State Brendan Hughes says between the old SUNY Albany location and now the new one at Crossgates Mall, they’ve never ended a day with extra doses. Moving to the new location and opening up to walk ins aims to keep it that way.

“We’ve got a lot of traffic here. Getting people back into shopping and in the mall is something that we thought of as this was becoming an opportunity for us,” Hughes explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

“We only take out as much [doses] as we need every day and appointments are mostly, if not completely filled. There is no wastage here, and we’re very proud of that,” he adds.

As NEWS10 has reported, many counties are finding it harder and harder to fill appointments, despite more than enough vaccine supply. Hughes says walk ins eliminate technology barriers and the new location helps with travel.

“Great bus access, so you know we’re certainly seeing more traffic that I think are non-personal vehicle related and that’s great for the community,” he explains.

Meanwhile, private practices offer a new approach. Community Care Physicians is now one of the few to offer vaccines at primary care offices.

“We have several offices that are trying to fit this into their usual operating routine,” says Dr. Ron Musto, the COVID response coordinator for the Community Care Physicians team.

Dr. Musto says five locations are piloting the program this month. He says primary care physicians have the advantage to work off established trust.

“We certainly have a better opportunity to have a one-to-one with our patients and go over the pros and the very few, if any, cons of receiving the vaccine,” he says.

The disadvantage — they only get doses that were unused from other locations like hospitals and county sites.

“It’s still hard to scale up when you don’t have a ready supply. It’s not like we have a refrigerator full of flu vaccines and you can give that to anybody who walks through the door,” Dr. Musto says.

He says it’s still difficult to fill all appointments; however, he adds things are easier now that some cold storage requirements were loosened and after New York State relaxed a rule this week that had mandated all doses be used within seven days. The current focus is to educate the younger population that Dr. Musto says shows more vaccine hesitancy.

“We are finding more hesitancy with the younger crowd that what we experienced with those who came in that were older, and part of that is younger folks feel a little bit impervious,” he explains. “Many of them have not seen what this disease can do, so they say to themselves, why should I get immunized, this disease has not been that bad among young people. We need to keep informing them young people are getting hospitalized, young people are getting put on ventilators, young people are dying.”

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